In my spare time, I tutor a little girl in reading. She's a wonderful child, incredibly earnest and eager to learn. She wants to be a doctor, or a nurse, or maybe a teacher.
I tell her that she can be any of these things, if she applies herself in school.
It's the same thing I heard when I was a little girl. Like her, I was bright, earnest and poor. And like her, I believed in the American Dream — that a child like me had the same opportunities as anyone else.
Of course, no one mentioned that it'd be a much tougher haul to reach them.
That's particularly true in Colorado, where huge gaps in government funding ensure that poor children receive fewer resources than rich children.
For this week's cover story (starting here), I talked with some of the people who have been championing greater equality, including state Sen. Michael Johnston. Johnston was the major backer of Amendment 66, a tax increase attached to a reform package aimed at evening the scales for disadvantaged kids.
The measure was trounced at the polls. But Johnston says he's not giving up on making change.
"You can never abandon this idea, because there are a million kids at stake," he says. "So sometimes you're tempted to just take your ball and go home but you can't do that in education, because there are kids that have to get up the next morning and go to school, and you've got to make sure you give them the best chance that you can."
Hey, it's the American Dream.